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CCFB News» January 2020

Family Farm & Food Bytes

01/06/2020 @ 12:05 pm

STARTUP COMPANY USES DRONES TO HELP POLLINATE TREE CROPS (FarmWeekNow)- A New York-based startup company is using drones to help pollinate tree crops, according to Growing Produce. Dropcopter relied on hexacopters to augment pollination of such crops as almonds, apples, cherries and pears. Three years of trials showed drone-augmented pollination increased yields by 25% to 50%. Not many trees are needed to harvest enough pollen for the entire orchard, according to the company and some buds remain on the trees whose buds are harvested. The drones follow a predetermined set flight plan, and the pollen is contained in a patented device that scatters pollen from the drone. Drones fly up and down the rows about 10 feet above the tree canopy and can cover about 20 to 25 acres an hour.


GOODYEAR TO INCREASE SOY OIL USE (FarmWeek)- Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company’s latest sustainability report shares the company’s goal of increasing soybean oil consumption by 25% next year. The company also wants to fully replace all petroleum in its tires by 2040.


PRAIRIE FARMS CAPTURES AWARDS AT NATIONAL CHEESE CONTEST (FarmWeekNow)- Prairie Farms Dairy, an Illinois Farm Bureau affiliate, recently won 14 awards at the 2019 National Milk Producers Federation Championship Cheese Contest held in New Orleans. Among the awards were four first-place, three second-place, and five third-place finishes. Prairie Farms Dairy also won the Best in Class Cottage Cheese Award and dominated the cottage cheese and Swiss cheese categories by taking 10 of 12 awards.


U.S. FOOD MOST AFFORDABLE (AFBF)- A new American Farm Bureau Federation® (AFBF) analysis shows that the U.S. has the most affordable food supply in the world. Megan Nelson, AFBF economic analyst, researched global food prices and found Americans enjoy the most affordable overall price for food at home – about 4.8% of disposable income. She also found people in high-income countries spend 4% to 6% of disposable income on food, while consumers in low-income countries spend more than 50% of their household budget on food.


ROBOTIC-POWERED RESTAURANT OPENS (Specialty Food News)- The restaurant, which is located in Los Angeles, serves a variety of organic smoothie blends that cost less than $6 and are prepared within 60 seconds. The automated, self-cleaning blender and robotic systems use 28 times less water than traditional smoothie operators.


CHEW ON THIS: FARMERS ARE USING FOOD WASTE TO MAKE ELECTRICITY (NPR Illinois) - It's estimated that the amount of food wasted each year in the United States could fill the tallest skyscraper in Chicago more than 40 times. Here’s one solution to the nation’s food waste problem: Dairy farmers in Massachusetts are using food waste to create electricity. They feed waste into anaerobic digesters, built and operated by Vanguard Renewables, which capture the methane emissions and make renewable energy.


Ono Food Co. has launched a mobile restaurant powered by advanced robotics, according to Specialty Food News.


U.S. CONSUMERS CONFUSED ABOUT CBD- What do you think CBD stands for? Research by the Grocery Manufacturers Association shows most American consumers don’t know what cannabidiol (CBD) is, what it does or whether all products made with CBD are safe to eat –- although 62% report they’ve heard of CBDs, according to the Specialty Food Association. CBD is derived directly from the hemp plant.


Of those surveyed, 39% said they believe CBD is another name for marijuana and 51% think CBD can intoxicate individuals who use it. In addition, 92% of consumers incorrectly assume or have no idea if the federal government regulates CBD. The Grocery Manufacturers Association suggested “federal government regulation and oversight must move at the same pace” to stay abreast with the CBD market.


 FOCUS ON LONG-TERM GOALS WHEN CONSIDERING FARM SUCCESSION- How do we keep a family farm in the family? Answering that question is part of Ron Hanson’s mission. The Illinois farm family native spent more than 40 years as a professor at the University of Nebraska. He will be the keynote speaker at three legacy planning seminars Illinois Farm Bureau® and COUNTRY Financial will host in February.


Hanson said there are many factors in play when considering farm succession, but it’s all about planning and the long-term vision for the farm. “How will this family legacy continue from this generation to the next generation and possibly even beyond that?" He reminds families not to get caught up in short-term problems and stresses.


U.S. ECONOMY, FARMLAND MARKET STUCK IN A HOLDING PATTERN (FarmWeekNow)- U.S. farmland prices have neither skyrocketed nor fallen back to earth since reaching record levels in 2013-14. 


The Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago reports farmland values in its district declined 1% in the third quarter. However, the value of “good” quality farmland increased 1% compared to the second quarter. Elsewhere, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported a 1.7% decline in the value of quality farmland in the third quarter. But the value of ranchland and pastureland jumped 10.6% in that period. Historically low interest rates also continue to provide underlying support for land values.


The biggest concern for the market remains a decline of working capital on farms. The St. Louis Fed’s survey of ag bankers reveals 70% of respondents believe operating lines of credit will have the largest increase in repayment problems moving forward. U.S. farm bankruptcies doubled from 250 in 2008 to 498 in 2018 but remain a drop in the bucket compared to 5,788 farm bankruptcies in 1987.


PURDUE RECEIVES GRANT TO STUDY ORGANIC HEMP PRODUCTION. Purdue University scientists received a USDA grant of nearly $1 million to explore organic hemp production. Kevin Gibson, Purdue botany and plant pathology professor, will lead the research team.


Understanding organic methods is especially important, Gibson said, because there are no legal pesticides U.S. growers can use on hemp. “This is a great opportunity to develop organic practices that can reduce the reliance on pesticides for all hemp growers,” Gibson said. “We also want to know how hemp might fit in rotation with other crops, how it might fit into a soil conservation system, and how cultivars and the timing of planting will affect growing success.” Gibson also is interested in how hemp may improve the viability of cover crops. Because hemp has a shorter growing season, it may be more practical to plant cover crops in the late summer.


About Family Farm and Food Bytes: This is a collection of articles gathered from both mainstream and agriculture media and is designed to keep you informed as a member and leader within the Cook County Farm Bureau organization. The articles summarized above are not intended to represent Cook County Farm Bureau policy or positions, but rather to provide members an idea of what is being reported regionally, nationally, and globally.


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